As Bill entered the church he was reminded that it was Advent once again. He sat quietly in his pew think about another holiday season; once again he prayed that no one would ever find out his secret. Bill did not hate the holiday season, it was just hard because of the ghosts from a battle decades ago that haunted him every year. He worried that someone would find out that he did not enjoy the holidays and would question his spiritual life. It had been ten years since he became a Christian and was told that if a Christian is not happy or merry during the Advent/Christmas season there was something wrong with your relationship with God. Before he was a Christian, Bill spent most of the holiday season in an alcohol coma to make it through the holidays. That Sunday, Dale preached on Comfort Ye My People. That the Advent/Christmas season was a time to seek out those who are hurting not only in the world around us but also those who sit in our pews.
This sermon was written because the Sunday before, I had woman in our church do the same thing that Bill was afraid of happening to him. She came to me and asked me if I was excited about Christmas and I had to be honest to her that I do not get in to all that Holly and Jolly part of Christmas. Without even asking me why I have trouble, she started preaching to me about my spiritual walk. So Dale wanted to open people minds that there are people even in our pews that are hurting during the holiday season. He let the people know about our personal struggles during this time of the year. Our family has had deaths of family members during the holidays and it is tough grieve when the rest of the world is celebrating — there are reminders of the baby that I lost about 20 years ago during this time of year. Yes, both Dale and I still grieve for that loss. The year before this sermon, my mother had a heart attack/ stroke the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. My family spent every day the whole holiday season wondering if my mother was going to live. Dale explained that Sunday morning that, as painful as those memories are, through those experiences we have gained a view of what Christmas is all about. It is a time when we are closer to Christ because there has been some Advent/ Christmas season that we have made through it by leaning on Christ and cuddling in his arms. After church that Sunday, Bill and his wife waited for all the people to leave so he could talk Dale and I. He thanked Dale for being honest and open about our struggles at Christmas. Bill told us his struggles that he faced every year. His wife was shocked because she never heard these stories about the memories from the battlefield decades ago.
This is a season we as Christians can show God’s love by comforting the people who are around who are hurting.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.